How to survive the holiday without loved ones

Handling the holidays in recovery

December 18th, 2020

For those in recovery, having the physical connections of love and support from family during the holidays be especially crucial. In a normal year, this season can make those in recovery feel vulnerable and anxious. During the pandemic of 2020, it’s twice as challenging because many will be not be able to gather in person with friends and family.

If you or someone you know is in recovery, there are ways to make sure it remains intact this holiday. Our culture bombards us with messages that the holidays are to be picture perfect, filled with those we love around us. When that is not possible, we need to find tools and activities to make sure we remain positive and on our recovery path.

Have a support system.

From the time we were all in kindergarten, we experienced the “buddy system.” That system is never more important than when in recovery. Social isolation is a high-risk factor for relapse. If you can’t be physically with family and loved ones, make sure you schedule those video chats on Zoom, Facetime or another platform. Stay in contact with your sponsor, close friends and support group. If they aren’t meeting in person or virtually, you can find other support groups online. You are not the only person going through this during the 2020 holiday season.

Avoid potentially risky social situations.

Even if you avoid in-person social gatherings due to COVID-19, many people have been holding virtual “happy hours.” If feelings of loneliness and isolation tempt you to accept such an invitation, consider hosting your own “recovery happy hour” with sober friends where you can share favorite non-alcoholic beverages and say “cheers!” to your sobriety.

Embrace gratitude and kindness.

Again, when tv commercials and the Hallmark channel communicate that the holidays should look one way, and ours does not mirror those messages, we can become negative and depressed – triggers for relapse. Look around you and find things in your life to be grateful for and count your commitment to recovery among them! Then channel that gratitude into acts of kindness. Thinking of and helping others will always boost your spirits and help you experience the true meaning of the holidays.

Take care of you.

In your recovery journey, you’ve learned the importance of self-care. Exercise. Eat well. Get good rest. Do what feeds your happy place, whether that’s singing, dancing, meditation, yoga, doing art, baking cookies or watching corny movies. If you journal, empty your feelings on paper, letting the negative ones go and celebrating the positive ones.

Watch out for triggers.

You know yourself. Avoid the things that lead to substance abuse. It’s more important now when so many of us are feeling isolated, especially during this holiday season. If you start to sense that you may be about to give into temptation, employ one of the tactics above to move yourself past those feelings and to a place of power.

Know that you are never truly alone.

Even when you feel that are in the center of a bleak midwinter, know that your loved ones — if not with you physically — are with you in spirit and heart and easily reachable by phone or computer. It’s ok to reach out and be honest about how you feel and what you need. If someone you love needed you, wouldn’t you want them to do the same?

Celebrate your journey!

During this holiday season, remember the gift you gave yourself and your loved ones: a healthy, whole you. Celebrate your commitment, your strength, and the love of self and others it took to get you here. That is one of the greatest gifts of all.

Finally, we are always here for you. If you need additional assistance this holiday season, please reach out to us at fairbankscd.org.